On both Friday, Nov. 20 and Sunday, Nov. 22, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) once again broke through the 1 million passenger mark, the second and third time that passenger volume has surpassed 1 million since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday saw the TSA screen 1,019,836 passengers while Saturday saw the TSA screen 1,047,934 passengers. Sunday’s number was the highest since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Both numbers are still down sharply from last year, especially the volume that the TSA saw ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday week in the U.S. in 2019—Sunday’s number was down 1.05 million from 2019—but are well up from the April low of 87,534.
The numbers boost comes even as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has warned Americans to avoid Thanksgiving travel, explaining that the “safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household.” For those who are still traveling, the CDC recommends taking precautions, including gathering outdoors, if possible, along with social distancing and mask wearing.
The travel industry did get another piece of good news on Monday. After both Pfizer and Moderna over the past two weeks reported that their COVID-19 vaccines were over 90% effective in their trials, two more vaccine candidate released its preliminary data this week.
Data from the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine trials, both of which released interim analysis today, showed up to 90% effectiveness.
All four companies still need to get regulatory approval for their vaccines, and have to build a distribution network along with proper storage facilities and more. Pfizer, for its part, has already submitted application for emergency use authorization to the Food and Drug Administration and Modern is expected to send its application sometime by Dec. 4.
According to USA Today, the FDA typically takes one to through weeks to rule on authorization and, after approval, shipping to distribution centers could start within 24 hours after authorization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would also need to make a ruling on the vaccine before full distribution could take place, which would happen shortly after the FDA gives its approval.
Reportedly, the first vaccines could start to be administered by the middle of December.
The news is significant because, according to consumer surveys, a vaccine could be a tipping point in getting the travel industry back on the road to normalcy, though the public is still somewhat reluctant to take it.
According to the latest data from MMGY’s TIPS survey, the potential and availability of a vaccine would impact travel decisions, more than any other factor, for a majority (53%) of the traveling public. Less than half of those respondents (45%) said that they would take the vaccine as soon as it is available, while 46% said that they would wait “at least a few months” to see if it effective before taking it.